For eleven long years, my life revolved around soccer. I scored my first goal at age five, but at sixteen, I scored my last. I suffered my second major concussion that year, so my days of playing soccer were over.
I believed soccer was my purpose in life, and without it, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after I was caught with drugs and journals filled with pages of my pain. I also developed an eating disorder, and was put in a residential program to rehabilitate.
My biggest secret is that I'm not fine. I have scars up and down my arms and legs. My pillows have been soaked with tears almost every night, but I still manage to paint a smile on my face every morning. My knuckles are bruised and my walls are covered in holes. I take medication. My anxiety keeps me from having a social life, and it even keeps me from leaving my house.
Little by little, however, I have started to see that there is so much more this world has to offer outside of soccer. I am learning to become grateful for my experience. I have been able to reconnect with my family and explore new hobbies I never had time for when I was playing soccer. I am realizing that my concussion didn't take my passion away, it just allowed more room for new passions to flourish.
I strongly believe that every experience, no matter how painful, is meant to help us grow into the people we are meant to be. I am recovering, and will be for the rest of my life. I’ve learned that it's okay to not be fine, and it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to cut people out of your life who aren’t good for you. It’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to have mental illness. I’ve learned how to acknowledge my depression and anxiety and accept myself for who I am.